Why does productivity (or the lack of it) matter?
I have been experiencing a huge dip in productivity recently, and I ended up feeling very negative about the things that I needed, and wanted, to do. This made me feel like a failure. I was overwhelmed with ‘the list’, and that made me not want to add any ‘newer’ things to it, because I didn’t want it to get any bigger. I also resisted looking at it, because it was just too huge for me to process!
This is my most recent reminder about why the lack of productivity matters to me. However, I don’t live on an island and how I feel will have an impact on anyone I interact with, if I’m with them for long enough for the initial distraction to go away, and for me to be reminded about the weight I’m carrying.
In addition to all this, the jobs that I’m not getting done may disrupt someone else’s plan, it may create a bottleneck and with that, feelings, such as, frustration, resentment, anger and helplessness usually follow, in those who are dependent on me getting my bit done.
Where does productivity matter?
Recently, I’ve been discussing productivity with friends and family, after which I completed a course by Fizzle. These events reminded that productivity isn’t limited to work. It is part of our social life, harmony in the family, spiritual well-being, good health and more.
That makes it even more important right?
That realisation, initially, made it bigger, more important and therefore a little scary. However, I was reminded that it doesn’t need to be feared.
There are many ways to bring about calm, regularity, organisation and smiles.
Are you aware of the main roles in productivity?
The two roles are:
- Planning, thinking, strategizing
The strategy I recommend, is to separate the two. It’s easy to flit between doing and planning but it would be beneficial to avoid that. If you know that you’re more creative and think better in the evening, schedule some time to do just that. If you’re more likely to get things ticked off the list on a Monday morning, carve out some time to go into ‘do’ mode. Try keeping the two separate and see if it works for you. I think you’ll that find you can get into the zone and remain within it, if you cordon yourself off from e.g. doing when you’re planning.
When you are planning, find a way to note down your ideas. If you are you a digital person, you might want to use Google Docs or Evernote. If not, you could have a notepad that’s divided up into different areas, or separate sheets that are kept in a folder perhaps.
Make sure that the list of tasks is clear, specific and concrete. This is important because you want to avoid thinking about how to do the task or having to work out what the actual task is. Make it clear without writing lots of notes, so that the doing part is quick and painless.
This may sound unnecessary, but be ruthless with your list. Make sure that it only has tasks for the next two weeks on it. If that is too much for you to see in one go, change it to suit you. There’s no harm in creating weekly or daily lists.
Review your list and update it by doing the following:
- removing tasks that you’ve done
- add new ‘immediate’ items
- move items that need to be postponed back to the planning sheet
- add other longer term ideas to the planning sheet
Goals and a clear vision
This may seem obvious, but make sure you know what you want to achieve. Take a few minutes to think about the desired outcome and write it near the top of the document so it’s easily visible.
Why bother? It will help you focus.
It will help you easily identify the thoughts that are taking you off task, so that you can return to what you’re meant to be doing.
Make sure you have clarity, because ambiguity will slow you down, let doubts arise, and resistance will follow.
Your plan for the next one or two years
Make a list of 25 things that you want to achieve in the next one to two years. These things can be about anything! Work, family, travel, social, spiritual, health, income etc.
Use this list to prioritise your top five goals and then focus on attaining them. Create weekly tasks lists to make them possible. The rest of the list can wait.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Back to where we began…
The huge dip in productivity I was feeling was caused by my chronic back issues playing up, which caused tiredness, pain, frustration and a feeling of being out of control. But there were many other things too. I won’t go into them here, but they involved family, work, identity and more.
Looking back, I should have realised that it was temporary. I should have focused on that and let it pass, instead of letting it bother me so much. I guess life doesn’t stop, and I struggle to do the same.
Seeing the light and running towards it
Something changed. I woke up one day with a little more energy, a little more motivation and I grabbed it and ran! I didn’t go to ‘the list.’ I just started with one thing that was on my mind. I completed it and then did another. That was the beginning of my productivity coming back. I felt lighter and successful.
I wish I could share more about the light, but I can’t. I think one of the things that was effecting me changed, and therefore, had less power of me. That bit of relief enabled me to see the light. Ironically, it was probably there all along. I just felt so weighed down, that my head was stooped too low, and I couldn’t spot it!
Planning and writing things down will help, BUT there may be days when the list that you can usually cope with, is too long. It’s OK. Change it. Make it shorte. Instead of looking at it, putting things off and feeling bad, make a new list with just two items on it. Tackle it and then do more if you can. If not, it will have to wait. Easier said than done at times, but we can try.
If we try and change the way we look at these situations when we’re feeling strong, there’s more chance of it helping us when we’re feeling weak.
I know a lot of parents who say that there are lots of things to do, but unexpected tasks come up frequently, and that in itself, is something that can’t be escaped.
When this happens, be flexible, be realistic and decide if anything on the list can be done. If not, and if they’re pre-school aged children, it might have to wait until they start nursery or school! If it can’t wait until then, you may need to reach out for help, to try and get it done before.
I’m sure you’ll have the headspace to think of a way to get the essentials done, when you’re not distracted by a list that’s full of things that can wait.
Some of us aren’t great self-motivators, and falling into laziness is easy. This is why having a bite-size, manageable and realistic list of tasks is helpful.
How to to avoid feeling out of control and negative about yourself
Identify what you want to achieve, create a plan, break this plan into short term tasks, then action them, review the list, amend the plan/list and repeat
Clarity is the key to speed, confidence and feeling light
If you have a bad day, try to remember that it will pass, have a look at what must be done, break it down further, and trust that you’ll get through the blip